By Myra Lee Adams Goff
In 1910 Professor F. E. Giesecke was teaching architecture at A&M College. He was the son of Capt. Julius Giesecke who was at one time former owner of the “Neu Braunfelser Zeitung”.
Intending to buy property for a summer home, Prof. Giesecke bought 60+ acres on the Comal River including what would later become Camp Warnecke. There was a suspension foot bridge where the Garden St. Bridge is, making it possible to have access to and from town.
The beautiful piece of property proved to be too large for a home, and so Dr. Giesecke established a summer school camp (Camp Comal) affiliated with both A&M College and the University of Texas. The purpose was to prepare students for college entrance or to help those already in college with deficiencies.
Students lived in tents on one side of the peninsula and teachers on the other in cottages. Meals were served in a large dining hall. Classes were held outside under the trees.
Some of you might remember the water wheel (gone with the flood) at the Camp Warnecke rapids. This area was also part of Giesecke’s 60+ acres. According to the 100th Anniversary edition of the “Neu Braunfelser Zeitung” (1952), the wheel belonged to Gus Tolle and was intended to furnish electric power for lights. Giesecke borrowed a motor and generator set from A&M the first summer. The light produced was unsatisfactory because the paddles of the old wheel were water-logged on one side and the wheel ran with a lope that caused the lights to dim and flare up with each revolution. The second summer Harry Landa had a power line run to the camp from his power plant at the entrance of Landa Park.
Prof. Giesecke was transferred to the University of Texas in 1912 so the larger part of the 60+ acre farm was sold to Otto and Martha Warnecke in 1918 who developed their property into Camp Warnecke. Dr.Giesecke retained a 4 ½ acre peninsula and converted it into Camp Giesecke. Descendants of the Gieseckes ran the resort until 1968 when the property was sold to Claudine Hovestadt, Jack Krueger, and Stanley Woodward. In 1994 Barry and Sarah Woodward Shea became the sole owners.
Since 1968, the resort has been called “The Other Place”. There are various interpretations of why the resort has that name, but perhaps the most popular reason is that when people would drive on to the property and ask if it was Camp Warnecke, the response would be, “No, this is the other place”. The name stuck.
Owner Barry Shea has a 1929 brochure from Camp Giesecke that advertises any of the nine screened cottages for rent for 50 cents a day per person (if you stayed at least a week). The rate for staying less than a week was 75 cents and $1.00 for holidays. Additional charges per cottage for lights, water, and gas was 25 cents. The brochure ends with this note: “No person afflicted with any disease should apply for admission”.
Over the years floods have taken their toll, but the one building still standing and historically significant is the original Giesecke house on the highest point of the bend of the river. The screened porch has been closed in but the original floors are there and pine siding on the inside is still there. It was the only building during our flood of ’98 that had no water inside. Architect Giesecke would have been proud.
According to Roberta Mueller who wrote “Oma, tell me about olden times” (compiled and edited by Roxolin Bose Krueger), Prof. Giesecke left UT to go back to A&M College in 1927. Giesecke had married an ancestor of Mueller and Krueger’s, Hulda Gruene.
Camp Warnecke eventually became part of Schlitterbahn, and “The Other Place” is still the other place. By the way, they will celebrate their 100th birthday next year.